Friday Night Lights was a really good book, a good movie, and it's a great TV series, too, though admittedly I've only been able to watch 7 episodes here on Hulu, 15 minutes here and there over lunch at the desk.
With shows like Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights, what's the truth? Do devoted fans overestimate the mass appeal of the show, or is it really, as fans claim, misguided marketing strategies on the part of the studio. If Friday Night Lights aired on a better night, not Friday night, would it grab a wider audience? How could Arrested Development have been saved?
The economics of more niche TV series and movies still seem prohibitive for creators. Talking to many producers of indie films, even finding a niche audience on DVD doesn't help many of them to recoup production costs.
Lower production costs, remove some layers of middleman marketing and replace with more efficient marketing channels (read: the Internet), lower distribution costs (again, the Internet), bump some of the revenue streams forward in time (overlap windows like DVD and theatrical/first run TV broadcast), and I hope the ecosystem is more friendly to shows like this.
As for Friday Night Lights, if you don't already watch it, the best way for me to support it is to try and hook you. Here are the first three episodes from season one.